Panesar shines but Pujara resists

England's Monty Panesar finished day one with figures of four for 91

England's Monty Panesar finished day one with figures of four for 91

First published in National Sport News © by

Monty Panesar marked his Test return with four wickets but could find no way past Cheteshwar Pujara as the tireless India number three once again confounded England.

Without Pujara (114no), augmenting the unbeaten double-century he made in India's nine-wicket first Test victory, England would surely have bowled their hosts out cheaply on day one of the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium.

He survived while the rest of the top six faltered against Panesar (four for 91) on a spinners' pitch, and then shared consecutive 50 stands with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin (60no) to turn a vulnerable 119 for five into 266 for six by stumps.

As in his tour de force 206 not out in Ahmedabad last week, Pujara appeared in control throughout on the way to a near five-and-a-half hour century. Panesar, back for his first Test in eight months, bagged the prize wickets of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. In his 100th Test, opener Sehwag managed 30, and Tendulkar just eight.

James Anderson gave the tourists a near perfect start, in the first over of the match after India had won the toss. Gautam Gambhir clipped him through midwicket for four first ball, but England's premier pace bowler swung the next past bat on to pad to win an lbw.

Panesar got an early chance, and had Sehwag beaten in flight to bowl him. Tendulkar also lost his off-stump to Panesar, but this time it was a perfectly-pitched delivery on middle and leg that tempted the master batsman to aim towards mid-on and turned enough to beat the slightly-closed face of the bat.

Pujara was just getting started, and Virat Kohli tried to follow his studied example. But the number five was not quite to the pitch driving Panesar and pushing a catch low to cover. Alastair Cook reintroduced Graeme Swann to bowl at Yuvraj Singh, and the ploy worked with an off-break that disturbed off-stump again.

Soon after Yuvraj's second-ball duck, Pujara escaped a half-chance on 60 when Anderson could not cling on one-handed diving low to his left at second slip off Panesar. But he and Dhoni added exactly 50 until the captain was neatly caught low down at gully by Swann when Panesar got one to leap and turn.

Pujara adjusted his own tempo once new partner Ashwin revealed a counter-attacking instinct in his 67-ball 50 as Stuart Broad leaked runs. They were arguably unfortunate not to dismiss Pujara in fluke circumstances on 94, when a pull at Swann appeared to loop up off Cook's boot at short-leg into the hands of midwicket.

The umpires interpreted ball first hitting ground from video replay evidence. It would have been an ironic way for England to get Pujara out at last for the first time in the series but instead, at the close, they were still searching for a way to dismiss him - after 719 balls, more than 15 hours and counting so far.

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